She has become a dear one in my life. A friend that walks beside me with grace and faithfulness despite heartaches and changes that keep us both clinging to God for strength. We have very few things in common, but the things we do share bind us together in enduring friendship–a beautiful, unexpected, deeply meaningful friendship.
For years we have brushed near to each other without really connecting. We lived on the same floor in college, but never really talked then. Our now-husbands were science majors and also lived on the same floor as one another, kindling their own friendship early on. I was at her wedding, as the girlfriend (now wife) of their wedding DJ, and neither of us can figure out how or why she ended up at my bridal shower a year later, because we really didn’t have a relationship to speak of at that time. Because of the guys, we shared a meal or two as couples before we set off for a few years of adventuring in Los Angeles. And that was that. Little blips of contact, and then nothing for several years.
We returned from L.A. three years later with our three kids (at the time) in tow. Eager to find connection in Seattle, I started reaching out to college contacts on Facebook, whether they had previously been close friends or not. Somehow, we found each other and a very unlikely friendship was born that continues to surprise and bless me years later. I think of how we never really know what God has in store for us, despite our past experiences.
Many things about our two lives are very different. Almost comically so. She is outgoing, I’m a little less so. She’s crazy organized. I’m more free-spirited in that department. For over three years, she has prayed and tried and hoped for a baby, with her hopes yet unfulfilled, and here I am, round with child, expecting my fifth. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense that we would, or could, share such a special relationship. Except that when God brings a true friend, sometimes it doesn’t need to make sense to make the tough journey just a little lighter for both.
I am aware of the pain she carries. Every time she comes to my home, she is enveloped in a life that she wants but does not yet have. Yet instead of withdrawing, she presses in, embracing my children, and pouring more into them than any other friend in my life. She has selflessly served me, and encouraged me through my harder days as a mother, even while struggling to accept what God has or doesn’t have for her despite her deep longing for children. It would only make sense for her to distance herself, to manage the pain by keeping away, but she doesn’t. She gives more, draws closer, invites me into her own tough journey, and leaves me feeling astounded and humbled by her constant friendship.
Earlier this year she became pregnant. We cried and laughed when I also had a positive pregnancy test a few days later, meaning we would be due with a child each within a week of each other. We rejoiced and celebrated, and it felt like our years of prayers had been answered with serendipitous beauty.
At 11 weeks, she discovered via ultrasound that her baby no longer had a heartbeat. I didn’t believe it at first, and it took me weeks to accept the loss. I haven’t been able to write a word about it until now, over two months later, because I have been processing and grieving with her in ways that I haven’t been able to give words to. I have been sad for others before…but nothing has hit me quite so personally as this.
I can’t think about my baby’s development without thinking about where hers would have been. I have struggled to think about the birth of my child being a reminder for her of hopes dashed. I am sad for her heartaches, and wish more than anything I could make everything better, that we could rewind and write the story differently. But I know better. So I pray more, for God to hear and to move on her behalf. To fill her with life and goodness, and the fulfillment she longs for. To comfort her in the season of barrenness and lead her into a season of fruitfulness. I give thanks for my every discomfort of pregnancy and continue to believe for miracles and breakthroughs and babies to come.
After the loss, I frantically searched for something I could do. I knew in my heart that nothing could take away the pain. But I had to find a way to validate the experience, to honor the child that was so desperately wanted, and is so desperately missed. I made a necklace with a birthstone to memorialize the expected date of birth. I didn’t know if it would help or hurt, but I wanted to give something that she could hold onto when everything else slipped away.
And in her beautiful gracious way, she accepted it from me, through tears and told me that for her, it symbolizes hope. Gah. What a lovely person. Clinging to hope right in the torrential downpour of grief. It still hurts a lot. For her and for me. But I’m so beyond thankful that she keeps embracing me and inviting me in, so we can cry and journey together.